Southern Miss comes into the spring this year with a much different scenario than they had last year. The time last year, the number one question on everyone's mind was who might emerge out of spring practice as the starting quarterback. Both Nick Mullens and Tyler Matthews engaged in a battle that would continue into fall camp.
This year, things look quite different. Tyler Matthews has transferred out (New Mexico State), and Nick Mullens was the conference USA offensive player of the year while putting up monster numbers. School record setting numbers, in fact. With Mullens returning in his senior year, this spring he becomes the face of the program, a spot he's perfectly comfortable with.
For questions one and two we looked at the wide receiver and running back positions. Today, we center in not on the starting QB, there is no debate there, but on who might step up to that ever important back-up QB role.
Anything can happen in college football, and that is why it is critical that Southern Miss establish a #2 guy who can come in and continue the offense should anything happen to Nick Mullens. While it could be an interesting race, the Eagles appear to have several candidates who have a step ahead because of prior experience.
Southern Miss made a splash in the JuCo ranks when they brought in Kwadra Griggs from Itawamba CC. The three star QB signed with Southern Miss back in December and will be with the team for the spring season.
Griggs averaged over 200 yards per game for ICC and was in the top 15 in all JuCo QB's statistically. He's big and physical, at 6'3, 225, and he can certainly stand up to the poundings a spread offense QB often can face.
He has a very strong arm and is mobile enough to make people miss, though I wouldn't quite call him a dual threat guy. He can run enough to make people think, but he is much more comfortable in the pocket making the throw. With his experience, he is division one ready. He will certainly be the front runner to win the spot as the back up. That said, if Mullens can stay healthy and USM can redshirt him, I think that would be ideal to prepare him to compete for the starting position the following year.
Also returning and ready to show what he can do is Gabe Green, redshirt freshman who has certainly grown in a year under the system and learning from Mullens and Matthews. Green has a winning pedigree. In his junior and senior seasons at Sacred Heart HS in Illinois, he led them to back to back 14-0 seasons and state championships. He has worked on mechanics and has really put in the time to make himself more accurate and with a stronger arm.
Gabe Green also is athletic and can add another element with his ability to move the ball with his legs. Griggs has the edge with his maturity in years and experience, but Green is a tough competitor who could certainly make a push for that back up role.
Couple of other notes:
-Parker Adamson is expected to make the move this spring to tight end. After a promising start when he first signed with Southern Miss, Adamson never was able to crack the line-up as a quarterback. His size and athletic ability could be a factor at tight end.
-Keon Howard is a three star QB the Golden Eagles signed out of Laurel HS and will be joining the team in the summer. Keon is a talented dual threat quarterback with all the tools to be very successful at the next level.